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tv   [untitled]    January 31, 2012 1:48am-2:18am PST

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they finally invented technicolor and all of this crap and these guys say they want to do "to kill a mockingbird" in black and white? and they're going to shoot it on a sound stage? these are very, very smart filmmakers. so i suggest you go back and watch it, and hopefully think about some of the things that i said about it. and the time it's shot. you know, the beginning of the 1960's and what's going on in the country. and i think you'll find it is a greater experience than you remember it. not because atticus finch is the smartest guy on the block, but because the movie makers are the smartest guys on the block. [applause] >> once again we have all the books by our novelists here and our writers here in the front. or you can find them on amazon.com. i'd like to thank mary mcdonagh murphy, who joined us from new
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york via skype, and john -- john is actually a descendant of the first chief justice of the u.s. supreme court. paulette frankl, "lust for justice," tony serra, and sheldon siegal. so before we take a break, i do have a surprise. a few years ago, i guess six or seven years ago, i met an amazing artist. i was visiting his home. and he had created this wonderful sculpture. i immediately recognized it as being clarence. it turned out that he had created a number of just amazing sculptures of trial lawyers. and he went on to do one of clara fults, the first woman attorney in california and became the leader of the public
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defender movement. and just by happenstance, he called me and had this idea of encapsulating one of the greatest trial attorneys of our times. so, bill? is he here? this is not a magistrate. [laughing] -- not a magic trick. >> i've never met tony serra, so i have to make use of the internet to get a sense of who he was and the imagery. what clearly came over was his passion for justice. and in some cases almost a rage for justice. and initially when i started the imagery with the clay, i tried
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to show this passion for justice, this rage. but then i had a conversation with jeff about tony serra. and another element came out, his great heart, his deep generosity, and his respect for those he defended. so i've tried to incorporate both of these things in this piece. and i depicted him as i would see him making his plea to the jury on behalf of his client. i hope tony likes it. [laughing] [applause]
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>> we knew this would be tremendously embarrassing to tony, because tony, you know, doesn't like to be recognized in any way. but the reason we did this, tony -- and i want to thank the trial lawyers association or the northern california criminal trial lawyers association as well as stuart hanlon. we're going to also have an image of you -- a sculpture of you, in our trial room to help inspire the next generation of attorneys. but this one is yours. [applause] so thank you very much to all of our panelists.
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we're going to take a five-minute break and then come back with our next p >> the second panel. this panel is going to be incredible. it really is. we have a superstar panel and, of course, a superstar moderator that i'm very honored to introduce, and that's judge lee baxter. and judge lee baxter is retired now from the bench, although you would never know it. and she's enjoying a new career as a photographer, is a great photographer. but during the time that she was on the bench in san francisco, we had the opportunity to try cases in her court. and she was somebody who represented fairness to everyone. and i think some of the ideals that we talked about in the last panel really were embodied by the way that she ran her court.
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and at the end of the day it was always about making sure that whoever appeared in her court and before the court walked out of there feeling that they had their case heard and their concerns heard. so, again, judge lee baxter, retired from the san francisco superior court bench. [applause] >> thank you for your kind words. i have been away for a while, but i certainly enjoyed my time on the bench, particularly at the hall of justice. i love the community of attorneys there and the community of judges. i'm glad to be back today. i'm also very delighted and honored to be participating in our fabulous panel which i will introduce you to in just a few minutes. before we begin, though, i
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wanted to say a quick few words about a tony serra story. i don't know if tony is still here or not. he probably is not. but i did want to tell you about this because i think it's important because it embodies something about tony that maybe you don't know. and maybe he'll watch the video of this and hear what i have to say. i was appointed to the bench in 1987, and i was assigned to a misdemeanor trial court, civil, actually. the very first trial, jury trial, that they sent to me was a simple assault misdemeanor case. and when the attorneys -- when i found out who the attorneys were, i was absolutely blown away because i had a district attorney -- it was not a civil case, by the way. i had a district attorney who was very, very inexperienced. i think he had had two jury trials at that point.
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i had had none. and lo and behold tony serra walks into my court representing the defendant. i couldn't imagine why he was there for a simple misdemeanor assault case, but he was. and i thought, boy, this is just my luck. here i've got this famous tony serra, he's renown, he's in the press all the time, he has had a movie made about him, and i bet he's an arrogant jerk, and i get him. first trial he's going to make me look really bad. and this poor d.a., we're just going to look terrible. well, lo and behold tony serra comes in. he's a wonderful gentleman. he's gracious. he knows i've never tried a case to a jury. he knows that the d.a. has tried two cases to a jury. he guided us through this trial.
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he put on a fabulous show, as is his want, which was instructional and very, very interesting. he never took advantage of my inexperience or the d.a.'s experience. and by the end of the day when that trial was over -- of course, he won. but nobody on that jury would have ever suspected that i had never tried a case to a jury or that the d.a. had not had any experience, virtually, either. so i have always wanted to thank tony serra for making me look really good my first jury trial. i had thanked him all my life. and i will never forget that trial. [applause] but let's get back to the issues at hand. well, it happened again this morning.
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when i read "the chronicle." it seems like it's an epidemic, but maybe it just appear that way. of course i'm talking about the many allegations of police officer abuse and misconduct that we have been reading in the papers recently, along with, of course, misconduct by former governors and monetary fund honchos. but i divert. first, i think the first real scandal that broke several months ago was the theft of drugs from the police department drug lab. then we had the raiding of residential hotel rooms without search warrants. these, of course, are all allegations. we had lying on police reports. surveillance camera videos showing officers removing items from hotel rooms other than
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evidence that they were going to put into their report. we had drug theft by officers. we had the so-called dirty d.u.i.'s, the drunk driving setups. we've had officers selling stolen drugs. and the one that just beats all is the one of setting up a brothel. now, if i saw a movie that included all of these things in a movie, i would think, well, this is not realistic. it just doesn't happen this way. but apparently it does. so today we're going to talk about the ethics of law enforcement, prevent ago boose of power -- preventing abuse of power. i wanted to read to you a letter to the editor that i happened to run across in the chronicle the other day when i was thinking about this panel.
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i just want to read it to you. it's entitled "betrayal of trust in the san francisco police department." my thoughts were just those of unbelief after reading your story "new video slap for san francisco cops." it is undeniable that our rights under search and seizure laws must be protected. but cops that blow cases by violating these rights should lose their jobs and be prosecuted themselves. i hope new chief greg suhr follows through on his promises to clean up the san francisco police department that betrays the trust put in it when it pulls stunts like this. so, what happens when those we think are protecting us from criminal activity become the criminals themselves? what is the mentality that
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causes this to happen? how much can a police department overcome such a betrayal of trust, public trust? so we're going to explore some of these issues today with our most imminent panel, all of them experts in their field. and we are very fortunate to have them all here. let me introduce you first to stuart hanlon, at my immediate left. stuart is a defense attorney of great renown. he has over 30 years of experience, including some of the country's most high-profile cases. including cases involving police and official misconduct. next to him is our san francisco police chief, greg suhr, newly appointed to that office last month. congratulations, chief. >> thank you, your honor. [applause]
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>> chief suhr has surfed in the department for 30 years. and as chief he will be overseeing a department of 1,800 police officers. next we have peter herley who is now acting as police consultant. he is the former chief of police of tiburon and the former president of the california police officers association. next to mr. herley is sharon wu, the chief assistant of operations in the district attorney's office. she oversees the criminal division, including the victim witness program and the alternative dispute courts. anne irwin is an attorney in the
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public defender's office. ms. irwin was recently involved in several of the cases involving the videotaped evidence which resulted in the dismissal of over 90 cases. you've read about those in the newspaper. and finally, we have civil rights attorney john burress. he specializes in civil actions brought against police officers for abuse of power, brutality, and wrongful death. let me remind the audience that we will have a brief q&a at the end. if you want to ask a question, just raise your hand. you'll get a card from the usher. and you can ask your question. and if you would like to address it to a particular panel member, you can do that as. i believe we are going to have a video now.
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it is movie time. >> this was recorded on a cellular phone by a witness who did not want to be identified. he was pulled on to the ground, face down. there was a struggle. the officers were neck and neck. those of few feet away watched it all happened. >> this is putting cases in jeopardy. >> she is a longtime employee now suspended. she was supposed to be watching over evidence. tonight, and narcotics cop is being accused of selling drugs. the
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workbooks in it -- they were booked in martinez this morning. >> norman wells was a very high- ranking narcotics commander. they are accused of more than 20 counts including conspiracy and selling marijuana and steroids. >> i feel like i was very much violated. >> also, juveniles and the neighborhood were put in handcuffs themselves. he was in the the raj, when an officer tried to take -- garage. >> the public defender's office says the video is so damning, one of the officers had to cover the lens. narcotics officers said they
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received permission to search two suspects' rooms, but the video tells a different story. >> without a warrant, without knocking, they burst into the room, all four officers, and then later lied in in a police report. >> the first incident in december showed the police officers were using a master key to open the door. they were given permission for the search afterwards. both defendants say one officer cover the camera when he and the three other officers forced their way into the suspect's home. add the public defender asked to have one case on the stand in court.
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they're already digging into this case. >> well -- [laughter] let's discuss this issue. how and why does the abuse of power occurred? i am going to be directing most of my question to specific panel members. however, if other panel members would like to weigh in on one of the questions, and particularly if you disagree, please feel free to interject what ever you would like to into the discussionstuart, -- into the discussion. stuart, i am going to start with you today. u.s. had 30 years of experience at least. are we seeing the most extreme
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cases of alleged police misconduct, or have you found the incidence to be pervasive? what is your experience in this? >> i started as a lawyer working on the case but geronimo pratt, a black panther case. that ended up after 27 years to be proven. and we have learned that law enforcement' officers had good evidence or statutory evidence, let people commit perjury, said in the room and -- sat in the room to destroy evidence to convict someone who was innocent. and that is how i started my career as a lawyer. when i started that case, i
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began thinking this was a big conspiracy to frame this man. what i learned is -- and i discussed this with geronimo -- we are experiencing men and women who thought the end justified the means. they thought they had a bad man and it was ok to do anything necessary to convict him. as i look back on my career, present and future, i think we see that that is the concept that runs through police misconduct. i am sure there are officers who were just bad, let's say. i think officers see what they consider bad people, and they feel like they have to do what ever it takes to convict them. and i have seen it when i was a young lawyer, when we had narcotics teams, we would get
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clients to said they arrested me with $20,000 and they said i only had $10,000. and we knew there were telling the truth. it i have seen it with law- enforcement officers in the case where a rogue cop shot a young girl, and the four other officers were all good men. remember -- you talk about misconduct, but primarily -- i want to get back to this -- most law enforcement people i have grown to know in my career are good and i think want to do the right thing. in this case, i am talking about now, in the middle of a cross-examination, this good cop was lying or not telling the truth to protect this bad cop, who they knew was bad. i said -- what are you doing? and he said to me, what do you
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want to do? and it was this dilemma. he said he was a good policeman. but this concept of "we do what we need to get done" is combined with protecting each other, because it is bus against them. you see it. you continue to see these cases of searches. these policemen do not think -- the people in pacific heights, they think it is okay to break down their door, because they are drug dealers or drug users. the problem we are seeing is the community loses faith in the police department. when we do not have faith and in the police department -- whether it is the judge or the court -- we all lose. these recent events, they are certainly unusual in their occurrence, and one after
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another. but i think there is something, if we were all on this year, we would say we had been here for awhile. -- if we were all honest here, we would say we had been here for awhile. if you look to the person to your left and to your right, he and i are friends, and we got to know each other when he was charged with a crime. falsely charged. police lied about him. getting to know that we have a chief now who cares about people and cares about how the community sees the police, there is hope. i hope there is some hope. it is an ingrained problem. the problem is how you teach policeman at the ends do not justify the means? you do your job and you let the courts work it out. you are not the arbiter. you cannot protect bad cops. they will ruin you. if there are 100 cops and three
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of them are bad, we look at these videos and say, you are all bad. how do we get that the community's faith? it cannot be done by one person. i think we start teaching young policeman -- if you like, if you teach -- if you cheat, you are going to get fired. you are going to get prosecuted. that is the message to come out of these cases. if they commit perjury, they have to go. we have to teach young officers and older officers, you cannot do this. you should never have started. breaking the rules because you think you have to do it to get a bad guy, breaking the rules because you do not trust defense lawyers because we are going to let these scumbags off. i trust the attempts to be done bechief suhr, but it is a long-
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range process. i am not an apologist for greg suhr or the district attorney, but they have to find a solution. without the state, law enforcement does not work. [applause] >> so, chief suhr -- [laughter] what do you do about this problem of the end justifying the means? so, how you teach your young officers or train them not to abuse their power and not to get these bad guys anyway they can and does not matter how they operate? how do you teach trainees about this?
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>> first, thank you for having me. this is a bit of an away game for me. [laughter] [applause] >> either way, it is your home town. >> that is true. >> you might feel like you're on the hot seat on this panel draws that is ok. i can handle it. >> the background is extensive. certainly, after i have come in, there are psychological profiles. there are lie-detector tests. so, we really do try to get it right. only one out of 11 applicants to the police department makes it through. yet, we still get some folks to do some things we would rather have them not do. but character is everything, as has been discussed, in the police department, because they give us an awesome amount of
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power and responsibility. we can train the officers. they get over 1100 hours of training in the academy. integrity is enforced every step of the way. usually, when officers are advanced, it is because they have demonstrated strong character or leadership along the way. but then again, too, in the police department, that is two dozen people. if you get a couple of people who are not doing what you would have them do, you get what you see on different videos. i would like to say, that is a highlight reel of all the things that have been put out. that was not all san francisco law enforcement. the most recent videos -- i could never pretend to be as eloquent as mr. hanlon, but if someone is proven to be dishonest, it is my intention not to have those officers in the san francisco police department anymore. [applause]
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>> mr. herley, you have been a police chief and dealt with police conduct as a consultant. do you have anything to add to what chief suhr has said about preventing misconduct in a police department? >> thank you for having me. i do have to point something out. i was not the president of the california police officers association. it was the california police chiefs association. i spent 21 years in the city of torrance in southern california before coming up here, a city of to under 50,000, about 350 personnel. -- 250,000, about 350 personnel. much smaller organization. completely different type of agency. but on
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